100 Tips for Leaders in the Church (pt 4)

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This week’s Tuesday Tips is the final part to this four part series. 100 Tips for Leaders in the Church (continued)

76. In a Sunday service, try to avoid naming lists of people you wish to thank or appreciate without having the list in front of you. Otherwise, count on it, you will leave someone out.

77. As the pastor, you are the mood-setter for the congregation. Whatever you radiate on Sundays and in private conversation with members, they will pick up, too.

78. Words. Never say anything to a church member about someone else you would not want plastered on a billboard at the edge of town. If you assume they are keeping this in confidence, you will live to regret it. (With your spouse and your mentors, you may speak your mind; to all others, tread carefully.)

79. Daily, pray the prayer of Psalm 141:3. “Set a guard upon my mouth, O Lord. Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Another you might want to add is Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto Thee, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

80. Keep good records for everything you do in ministry—whom you saw, your appointments, everything. A few times in a long ministry, you will find yourself digging through it in search of a vital bit of information (“When did this happen?”) and be so glad you had the records. (I once had a woman call to ask, “When did you marry us?” She gave me two possible dates when it might have occurred. I found her wedding on my calendars and informed her that not only were her two dates incorrect, she was on the wrong year!)

81. Just as no one knows you better than your spouse, your co-workers on the church staff see you as no one else does. Make sure they respect you as a person of integrity and compassion who keeps his word, has a sincere heart for God and treasures each of them. Defend them before critics. If you lose their respect, the fabric of your leadership begins to fray.

82. Watch for certain scriptures—a verse here, a verse there—to begin to impress themselves upon you in a special way. This is a work of the Holy Spirit. When this happens, He is inviting you to study this area more, to seek His insights and receive His teaching.

83. Humility. Do not fear apologizing to your people. If you made a mistake and everyone knows it, to stonewall and refuse to admit it is to enrage a few and disappoint the others. By humbling yourself and admitting your error, then asking for their forgiveness, you endear yourself to everyone who matters. (I’ve known of pastors who gained so much love and acceptance by publicly apologizing for a mistake, they jokingly say they are now looking for some other dumb mistake to make just so they can apologize.)

84. When you need the approval of a committee, say the finance or personnel, for some project or expenditure, if the chairperson says, “Oh, go ahead and do that, pastor,” you should respond, “Thank you, my friend. But I’d really like the entire committee’s input on this.” Insist on meeting with the entire panel, and never allow the chair to act as if he or she is the committee. (Church bosses are created just so subtly as this.)

85. Always err on the side of conservativism in finances and on the side of grace in relationships.

86. You should always see yourself as a servant and nothing more (see II Corinthians 4:5). Granted that, in Christ, you are much more. However, we’re speaking of “how you see yourself here.” Be a servant. Serve your spouse, serve your staff, serve the congregation. (The parable of Luke 17:7-10, mentioned previously, reigns in your ego’s need for recognition and appreciation. That parable is found nowhere else in Scripture, and may be one of the most important teachings anywhere for God’s workers.)

87. Learn from everyone you meet. Work at asking key questions to draw them out, and then listen intently to their responses. “So, Bob, tell me what you did on your job today.” “What was the most interesting thing that happened to you today?” Ask it, then sit back and be quiet and wait for an answer.

88. Never forget the old adage, “No one should ever preach on hell without tears in his eyes.” Only the compassionate are entitled to teach the stark truths about hell. To speak of such a “difficult doctrine” (see John 6:60) without your heart breaking fails your people.

89. Sleep. No one unable to turn off the constant demands on his life will be able to sleep at night and endure long as a pastor. You live in a world of unfinished tasks; get used to it. (Nothing lifts burdens like prayer. Pray about everything, then leave matters with the Lord—at least overnight.)

90. Have a notepad on your bedside table. When thoughts of people you need to call, projects you need to lead, notes you need to answer, will not leave you alone and interfere with your sleep, write down reminders for the next day and go back to sleep. You’d be amazed how jotting these down settles the mind. (Never assume that “This is so important, I’m sure I’ll remember it when I awaken.” You won’t.)

91. Beware of spending your days locked in your study, absorbed in your computer. Get out of the office and drink coffee with your office staff and the other ministers. Visit your people in the hospitals or the homebound. Check on the saints in the assisted living facilities.

92. Prayer-walk your neighborhood and the blocks around your church regularly.

93. Knock on the doors of all the homes around your church, at least a block in each direction. Introduce yourself and say, “I’m just meeting all our neighbors to ask one question: Is our church being a good neighbor to you?” See where the Lord leads.

94. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

95. Guard against even the appearance of anything out of line with women. If you find yourself being attracted to some person other than your spouse, pick up the phone and ask your mentors if you can meet with them “tomorrow or sooner!” Tell them; they are unshockable and can talk straight to you.

96. Don’t sell your seniors short. Just because we opened this “list of 100″ with a dig about “only 3 people like change and none are in your church,” the fact is, most people do not mind change. They just don’t like abrupt change. Seniors are not averse to new things. No one drives a 1948 Packard to your church. Your seniors own widescreen TVs and computers. Some of them want only hymns written before 1912, but most would appreciate some of the great choruses being produced these days. And they’d like something more than just the piano and organ. But don’t dump it all on them at once. Introduce it slowly, sweetly, carefully.

97. Help your people learn what it means to live by faith. The Lord has no hesitation in asking us to go when we do not know the destination, to build when we do not have the resources, and to give when we have only two mites. Show the flock how to do it yourself, pastor, then (and only then) teach the principles.

98. Remember the delicate balance the Lord has put in His churches: Just enough ornery, head-strong people to keep you humble and just enough sweet, godly saints to keep you from quitting.

99. Have a pleasurable hobby, one you do with some regularity to help you keep your balance in life. But do not let it grow out of proportion and begin to assume too much of your time, energies or money.

100. Start your own list of “Things God is teaching me in ministry.” Or even, “Lessons I have learned the hard way and have the scars to prove it.” Or this one: “Areas in which the Lord is still working on me.”

Thank you for reading my entire list. If as many as six or eight of these seem to have your name on them and to have been planted here just for you, we are well-rewarded. God’s richest blessings on you, my friend.

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My boss is taking a month off work?? Pt 2

Today is part two of a fantastic post from Larry Boatright on affirming your pastor’s need for Sabbath.

Yesterday, I talked about how our Lead Pastor is taking a few weeks off next month for his summer study break. I talked about reasons and benefits to his doing this, and today I thought I’d share a number of ways I think you as a staff member can help make this a great, productive, beneficial time for him.

Some ways to help:

– Pray! Pray that he really rests and takes his minds off the day-to-day of the church. It’s important that he really recharges his batteries. Pray that he really connects with God- this is SO important. I can tell you that Scott is leading the way he thinks God is leading- so I and the rest of the staff NEED him to connect with God during this time. I’m praying and trusting that he will.

– Think of ways to pick up the slack… over the next few weeks, I’m going to look for ways I can pick up the slack around the office and in our teams so he doesn’t have to worry about it. Are there little things you can do that will save your leader from worrying about them? Look for them and take care of it! This obviously depends on your role and job description, but everyone can pitch in even in little ways that make a big difference in the leader’s ability to disconnect from the day-to-day, trusting that things are being executed well in his absence.

– Leave him alone! It’s all too tempting to make little issues seem like big issues that need to be solved by the senior leader, but in reality, most things he doesn’t need to be bothered with. Before you pick up the phone or type an email, ask yourself this question: “Is this issue something serious enough that it’s worth interrupting the potential rhythm of rest and refreshment my senior leader is having?” If it’s not, don’t do it! (let me give you a little tip based on experience: there’s very little worth this interruption). Wait until he’s back or see if someone else on staff can help you. Most things that in the moment feel like a crisis end up being minimal.

– Be a buffer. When people in the church come up to you and say, “Can you get in touch with so and so, it’s really important?” run interference and keep unimportant stuff from causing an interruption to your senior leader’s important time away. See the above, leave him alone.

– Get ahead. It’s natural when the “boss” is around to have a million little things you are doing. While he’s away, take the slightly lighter pace and get caught up but take it a step farther and get ahead. What upcoming events can you work on now? What things in the church (painting a room, cleaning carpets, etc) can you ensure get completed? Get ahead so there is room in your schedule to respond to the things your leader feels God wants the team to respond to in the upcoming year.

– LEAD! He needs you to lead. It’s your church and your responsibility too, so step up and when you see things that need to be done, do them and lead out!

– As a staff, think of creative ways to welcome your leader back when he returns from break! This might include getting a gift card to a nice restaurant and offering to babysit, hanging a banner, getting a card or Starbucks gift card, etc. Be creative!

What things can you think of that would help your senior leader have a great, productive time off? If you’re a senior leader, I’d love it if you’d chime in here with some things that help you during your time away.

You can follow Larry’s blog at http://www.larryboatright.com or twitter.com/larryboatright

A Shepherd in the Boardroom

A Shepherd in the Boardroom

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Examining the pastor’s role in mentoring business leadersf-Greene-ShepherdBoardroom

When Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers and chased out the dove sellers from the temple (see Matt. 21:12), He also launched a discussion among church and business leaders for centuries to follow.

The relationship between church and business ranges from the simple, “Would it be OK to place a brochure for my business in your lobby?” to the more complex, “Would your business donate materials to build a new gym for our youth?”

A slippery slope exists in the relationship between church and business. The primary issue seems to balance on the fulcrum of doing commerce in the church and receiving support from local business for church budgets. As church budgets continue to cope with declining revenue, the tipping point becomes less obvious.

Ultimately, church leaders need wisdom in building relationships with business leaders for the work of the church and for the prosperity of local business. If the church focuses on developing the leader in the business leader, the harvest is predictable—for the business and the church.

Providing spiritual leadership to business leaders is not unlike teaching leaders of the home. Church leaders provide counsel to help businesses remain on a path to significance. The leader’s role is not so much to provide a list of “don’ts” as it is to encourage a businessperson to seek God first in all things.

Business is a domain, and God calls business leaders to have dominion in their calling. Rulers are set in place by God to effect progress in the kingdom. A godly business has a purpose in the kingdom of God. The following points are offered to help church leaders connect with their kingdom authority:

Counsel

Effective business leaders have learned to listen to very few voices. Most leaders have a trusted circle of influencers and don’t stray too far away from that collective voice. The best counsel for business leaders is the voice of God. How can you help them hear the still, small voice?

Encourage the blessing of important contracts and deal sheets. Ask business leaders to meet with you as their spiritual leader to pray over and seek God’s blessing on the proposed deal. Too often, business leaders will come to God after a deal goes bad and ask why. We need to help businesses progress to the altar to petition God for wisdom prior to the inking of a contract.

Encourage business leaders to quiet the voice of advisers who do not know God. Key decisions require godly input. The advice of man is limited to worldly intellect, but spiritual intellect leads to better outcomes.

For example, a few months ago, a business leader brought me three proposals to build a website for a business. Proposal A was clearly the best, from my business perspective, with a lower cost and quicker turnaround from a more experienced firm.

Proposal B was God’s choice, and proposal C didn’t enter into discussion. When I prayed with the business leader, I could not get clearance to bless what appeared to be the best deal. I prayed over and blessed proposal B, and the business owner accepted the leadership.

In subsequent weeks, company B kept improving their delivery, and the project achieved better than expected results. Company A went out of business later that year. A business that is led by the Holy Spirit is headed in the right direction.

Listening

Business leaders can help the church, and we need to be open to listen to their ideas about church growth, relationship building and finances. There are some who suggest that we should run our churches as a business—but they don’t have business people as close advisers. It seems better to me to run our churches as prescribed in the New Testament while lending an ear to business counsel.

Knowledge in the business arena moves quickly. It would be a difficult battle for a church leader to keep up with all business innovation. Technology evolves almost overnight, and many of the new tools can help advance the work of the church.

Listening posts help church leaders remain connected and caring. Successful business leaders operate on a high level of communication and trust other leaders who initiate conversation. Have regular meetings with business owners, asking questions. Ask for recommended reading lists of everyone you meet in business. Learn to hear the drumbeat of business progress.

Then, in the quiet of your study, ask the all-important question, “So what?” What does it mean for your church? Did you learn something that you can now train? Is God leading you in a specific direction? It is likely that your leader meetings are divine appointments. What is the primary takeaway for you?

Integrity

Obviously, this is a category in which church leaders must engage on a teaching level and in personal application. Business leaders expect church leaders to do what they say they will do. I continue to hear accusations against church leaders about their lack of keeping commitments. The credibility of a church leader is difficult to establish and easy to lose.

By nature, business leaders are skeptical of most promises made. There isn’t much they haven’t been promised and little they have seen fulfilled as promised. Most church leaders address issues of moral decay, but we also have a responsibility to teach business ethics at a penetrating level. It is not that hard for a business leader to lose “true north.” Messages to business leaders need to suggest a high bar, with faith as the core asset of the business.

Prayer and First Fruits

f-Greene-ShepherdBoardroom2It seems overly simple to say this, but church leaders need to pray more often for business leaders. Pray the business by name, and pray for specific outcomes. Ask God to favor the business with increased revenue.

My preference is to go to the business and pray in its facility. I do this especially if the business is having difficulty. I pray over accounts payable and accounts receivable. I pray over the cash register. I pray with the leaders.

We need to demonstrate how to lead spiritually. It won’t surprise you to know of the success stories reported with on-site prayer and spiritual attention.

Business leaders need to be taught the principle of “first fruits” for their business. It is certainly one thing for a leader to tithe. It’s quite another to teach a business owner to share the first fruits of their business with Jesus, the High Priest. Businesses who give first fruits to God have greater harvests.

God is using business leaders today to advance the kingdom. In many churches and countries, the backbone of the church consists of a core group of business leaders. As we counsel leaders and learn to listen on a deeper level with full integrity, surely Jesus will be well-pleased with a righteous relationship between church and business.


Steve Greene is the dean of the College of Business and dean of Distance Learning at Oral Roberts University. With a long career in broadcasting and marketing, Greene has a doctorate of business administration from the University of Memphis.

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What do I mean by Apples of Gold?

A bit of background…

My maternal grandparents were Pentecostal Holiness preachers – both of them.  Long before the days of the prosperity movement, pastors in the Pentecostal (and many other) denominations scratched a living out of any job they could find, while holding Sunday school, Sunday morning service, choir practice, Sunday night service, Wednesday night service, Thursday night visitation, and visits to their congregation all the remaining nights of the week.  They lived next door to the church, or sometimes in it.  The lack of time and money for outside entertainment wasn’t a big deal then, because there was no expectation to be culturally current, and most forms of entertainment were forbidden anyway.  My grandfather was a carpenter (among other things) and provided fairly well for his family of seven,  Times were tough for pretty much everyone, so there was no reason to consider themselves particularly deprived.  They were weary, but happy.

My father became a pastor in the no man’s land between this type of respect and the excess of the professional preacher of my generation.  The attitude during his time of ministry seemed to be, “Keep your pastor hungry and humble.”  There was still the need to work a second job, but the expectations of his growing family were significantly greater.   Movies, sports, music lessons, and vacations were not only acceptable, they were expected.  He labored to satisfy the demands of his family and congregation – to provide a better life than the hardscrabble poverty of his own upbringing.  These dual demands left him weary and angry.  He took vacations, but never fully enjoyed them.  Still, he was in the same situation as just about every other pastor he knew.  Eventually the warring expectations became too great and he left the ministry, discouraged.

My older brother became a pastor after the advent of the TV preacher, but before the stigma of “televangelist” attached.  He, too worked a second job to support his young family, but there was a much greater likelihood of that being a temporary thing.  It was possible to support a family as a full-time pastor if only your congregation was large enough.  Still, it was several years before he was able to devote himself fully to the church.  Years of church offices and meetings held in his home.  He leads a thriving, but not huge congregation these days.  I’m sure there are times when he is weary – ministry is a demanding profession in the best of circumstances – but he is happy.

Three stories of ministry in my own family.  All three worked hard, had good times and bad, one left pastoring forever.

We know we need to pray for our pastors, give to the work of the church, tell them we enjoyed their sermons.  But what can I do specifically for my pastor? Apples of gold in settings of silver – apparently there’s a great deal to be said for encouragement – the gift of exhortation.  That word can be cheer, sympathy or challenge, but it must be the right word at the right time.  My goal is to bring that encouragement through this blog, website, Face*Book, T*witter, and through our home – Barnabas House.  To support the calling of pastors in word and action, intentionally.  To honor those who give their lives in the service of the Father.

Let me know what the right word would be for you.